Returning Player - Needs Tactical Advice Badly.
Ok, as it says in the title, I'm a returning player. I think the last time I stopped playing was right after the release of the Breen episodes, and I've only been back since the beginning of the month.
With the coming of Season 4, I find myself even less prepared than I thought, and when I looked at my skills - both for myself and my boffs, I was both confused and surprised. Confused, because there were some I didn't even realize existed that I SHOULD have put points in (I'm currently flying around the Galaxy in a retrofit exploration cruiser and all my Tier 5 points are in Assault Cruiser) and surprised because there were some I put points in that I was surprised I did.
That being said, I'm trying to navigate my way back into the game and could really use some advice. I have a Federation Vice Admiral (And any advice from KDF players wouldn't go awry either, as I'm also leveling a tactical officer on that side who is currently level 35 and loves Birds-of-Prey)
Hrm... I hate to ask but; could you be a little more specific? There are a ton of possible directions to go in offering advice so I don't want to give you a ton of info you already have, and leave out the thing you really want to know.
For some basic information that may be of use on the new ground combat, check the link in my signature, and also Peregrine Falcon's guide to weapon stats.
While they aren't super in-depth, it's something that should at least be able to get you started there.
Define 'Be more specific'? I understand there are a hundred possible directions to go here, but I literally feel like a blank slate when it comes to what I should or should not do as far as placing points and equipping my vessels.
The best thing I can say is I prefer to DPS, love cruiser class vessels (birds-of-prey for KDF) and have an exploration refit. I'm also looking for something fairly balanced between ground and space combat. I will look at your links though, to see what I can glean from them. Guides are good.
But it still doesn't help me choose my skills for my captain. Or are the skills honestly not that much of a benefit compared to good equipment/boff combinations?
(Sorry for the delay, RL got busy there for a bit)
First - "Be more specific" meaning: What precisely are you after? Build advice? Ship selection advice? Ground team construction? That kind of thing. (Don't feel limited to those categories of course, those are just examples.)
Second - Skills are definitely important, though the aren't the be - all end-all either.
The basic advice I can give on skills is something like this:
1) Find a kit you really like. My personal favorites at present are Operative and Squad Leader; but they all work fine - it's mostly a question of finding what works for you personally.
2) Find the skills that affect those abilities and pump them up.* You can find this out by using the dropdown menu over your skill trees, and selecting the power in question.
3) In regards to ships - remember that 50% of the skills from a previous ship type carries over to the higher version of that ship. So in your Refit Exploration cruiser, if you have points in say... Heavy Cruiser and Exploration Cruiser, each will grant 50% of it's skill bonus to your Refit Exploration cruiser.
Whether this is worth speccing for or not seems to depend on who's asked. I usually spec for it; but space combat tends to be reasonably easy at least on Normal; so it's not one of those things where a handful of misspent points will hurt you too badly.
4) In space, pick a damage type and stick to it. Ex: Use Phasers, put points in Phasers, don't put a random Tetryon array on your ship or try to spec for say... both Phasers and Disruptors.
Hrm.... Anything beyond that I think I'll need specifics for >.< hope that's at least something though.
Doh; I forgot to address your question about those boffs:
Yes, having a Medic is very, very handy. I want to stress that it is not foolproof, even on Normal difficulty. Damage comes in *very* fast. That said... I definitely like having one around and will only go without if I"m building a character with a gimmick. Medics are love.
Engineers are definitely handy as well; though if you want to use the generator abilities, I highly recommend making good use of the Pause feature and manually setting their equipment up. (If you can spare a slot for it, Cover Shield is very handy for blocking enemy LOS to said equipment.) The biggest thing here is that generators are fragile, and your Boffs are a bit eratic in placing them... so they might dump them somewhere less-than-useful if you let them do it on their own.
Something to consider with Engineers (though YMMV) is having Shield Repair III if you can find someone to train them in it, and Support Drone I. The latter can now heal among other things, as well as having a hand phaser - and the former can be a real boon when the crap is hitting the fan, since it usually fully restores my shields in one go.
Really though, anything can work; the biggest single thing I can say is: Find something you feel comfortable with and then practice making that work.
*A few tips on skills too:
1) Don't increase first tier skills above 7 ranks. You get very little return for your investment on those last two ranks, and unlike some later skills, the first tiers never grant you a power to teach to your BOs.
2) Don't automatically max out a given selection. While it's often useful to do so, check the bonus numbers and make sure the return your getting is worth it in your opinion. Likewise take into account any powers that maxing a skill might grant you, and weigh that into your consideration; since it makes teaching those high end skills to your boffs much easier. (The other option is to find someone who does have said skills, trade them the boff, and then get the boff back.)
3) Don't neglect Ground or Space. Eventually we may see the two types of skills split so that we get equal points for each and this is no longer a concern; but for the present make sure you have a reasonable spread in both areas.
4) Your ground skills also improve your Boffs ground skills. So if you train Grenades highly, it's probably a good idea to make sure any Tactical boffs you have have a Grenade skill or two. This does, as I recall, mean you do not have a way of boosting the ground skills of Boffs who aren't members of your profession, but the default numbers are usually 'good enough' anyway.
Holy Toledo, that is some excellent food for thought. I already see that I've really got my work cut out for me. Which is, believe it or not, very good. ;) I realize now I have already made several mistakes - like including a tricobalt launcher on my ship - I don't have but 3 points in it. And I maxed out polaron weapons while only having one polaron array.
So far, based on comments I've seen and my own look at the weapons, phaser and photons seem to provide the best bang for your buck in terms of space weapons (And if I'm wrong, let me know.)
But I also discovered I made the mistake you advised against - I have a LOT of maxed out skills in the first rank, and quite a few otherwise. Clearly, I've got some work to do with my bridge crew and my captains.
Several more questions/misc
1) I'm after build advice, definitely. (Which I think mistformsquirrel has given me in spades, thank you!)
2) I need ship fitting advice (I'm going to stick with my retrofit exploration cruiser. I wish I had one more tactical slot, but the only other ship that looks the way I want it to would be the Dreadnaught and I don't have money for 2000 atari points.) I'd even switch back to my assault cruiser though, if it was thought that was my best option. So any help here would be a blessing.
3) I definitely need boff advice. I currently run with 2 tac officers, 1 medical/science, and 1 engineer, plus my self as tactical. I do like the Squad leader and operative kits, and use the squad leader on my fed vice admiral, and the operative VIII on my klingon.
4) My goal is to create a setup that can handle just about anything the game throws at him (on normal) both pve and pvp - with an eye to being able to cope in missions with teams that are above normal difficulty. If that's not possible (many games end up only allowing players to focus skills/equipment to do one or the other pvp or pve, not both.) then I definitely want my Fed to be pve specced, my klingon to be pvp-oriented.
I know that's a tall order, but I'm not expecting perfection, or even 'HEY! PUT POINTS HERE OR YOU'RE A NOOB'. I'm expecting ideas, hints, tips, tricks, and even pointed advice.
Oh, and THANK YOU, mistformsquirrel. You've already helped a ton.
I personally prefer Quantum torps in space; for the higher burst damage and the fact that they travel faster... buuuuut ultimately it's a matter of preference; photons work fine too. Plasma, Transphasic, and Chroniton are all kinda 'meh' imo though.
I do want to make a quick note on the Tricobalts though: They can be potentially very useful; however I'd never actually put points into them. The key thing though is that imo, they're best used on an Escort in the back. The idea being that you make your pass, pull a fishhook turn away from the shield facing you just obliterated, and then dump a Tricobalt on your way out. Strictly speaking it's probably less effecient than using Quantums... but it is a lot of fun imo. (And since it requires no skill investment, you can always try it out for kicks with no guilt.
Lets see what I can do on the rest of your points >.>b (Glad this is useful to you!)
2) - Honestly, all 3 top tier cruisers are fine. I personally prefer assault, but that's mainly because I find the 3rd ensign Engineering power on a Refit Explorer a bit redundant. That said, redundancy can keep you alive; and the saucer separation can be a lot of fun in the right situation.
Actually outfitting them... this depends, there's a few different ways to go:
There's a full on beam boat (4 arrays forward, 4 arrays rear) - basically just broadside like crazy and they will die. Not my cup of tea so I don't have a ton of experience with it. My understanding is that Fire At Will is a good choice for this kind of ship though.
Then you've got your mixed beam boat - 3 arrays forward, 3 rear, 1 torp in each direction. Idea being to broadside as per above, but twist to hit them with torps as needed. Tried it, personally didn't like it. It wasn't that it was bad, I just hated having to swap facings for the torpedoes, even though it wasn't a big deal.
My personal setup is like the mixed beam boat, but with a dual beam bank up front instead of the 3rd forward array. The advantage here is that my forward firepower is increased, and thus I have a good reason to keep my nose (and my torpedoes) on target. The disadvantage is, I sacrifice a little broadside power. Ultimately I find this a worthy tradeoff, but it really depends on how you like to fly your cruiser.
Then you've got the Turret or Turret and Single Cannon build - I've got a character who uses this as well actually and it is quite effective. The setup I use being 3 Single Cannons up front and 3 Turrets in back. Obviously Rapid Fire or Scattery Volley are musts. (Sadly unless you've got an Excelsior, it's one or the other.)
The fun thing about this build is that it has substantial forward firepower that also tracks right up to broadside ranges. The disadvantage is, for this firepower to be at it's best you want to be inside of 5km - and your tail is pretty vulnerable, having only 3 turrets available for defense.
You can go all-turrets as well though (6 and 2 torps, or 8 turrets) - the chief difference being sustained DPS (since there's no 'safe' arc against a turret boat) vs burst DPS (the cannon and turret boat hurts more if you're in the front 180 degree arc.)
I favor the cannon and turret set up since it makes me keep my nose on the target and again keeps my torpedoes aimed where I want them most of the time.
Those are the typical cruiser builds I can think of.
Oh, before I forget: I had something I wanted to mention about power levels. You probably already know this, but it's one of those "Just in case" things...
In most circumstances, keeping weapons at 100 power (plus whatever bonuses you have), is the way to go. You'll also want to check out this episode of STOked - specifically the math segment. The key thing there is he talks about the Efficiency attribute; and it'll help you decide if you want to invest towards it or not, and in which skills if you do.
3) That's very similar to my own set up actually. Honestly it's worked fine for me; I think you're probably fine Boffwise, just do some testing and make sure you have them set up in a way that makes you comfortable. You can always get plenty more merits if you need to change skills out later.
If I had one "You cannot go wrong with this" suggestion, it'd be to give the tacoffs at least 1 Photon Grenade each of the maximum rank you can get them. Grenades in S4 are quite good, and having Boffs tossing them alongside you is well... nice! That said all the skills are useful so the big thing is getting comfortable.
4) Honestly you're really in luck here - STO on normal is *very* forgiving. It's harder in S4 on the ground than it used to be (the key thing being to pay attention due to everything moving so fast) - but all told it's hard to build something so bad it won't work.
So yeah, the main advice I can reiterate here is: Find something you're comfortable with. When you find something that suits you, it'll become second nature; which will cut out a lot of the danger from things moving too fast.
That said! I want to note I am not an expert on PVP. I do it from time to time... but mainly as a Klingon Sci officer in a carrier. >.< So my PVP advice is probably not very relevant unfortunately.
I'll have to leave that to someone else I'm afraid.
(I'll also add my warning label from my guide thread: Everything here is accurate as of my knowledge and has worked for me personally; but I make no guarantees >.> I find a lot of things in this game are YMMV; which is why I keep mentioning testing things out and finding what's comfortable.)
Oh, also, I don't know if you know, but you got a free respec with Season 4 - so that could help you out too.
And you're very welcome <^_^>b
See, this is what I need, someone to give me suggestions and answer my questions. :)
Here's my question, (and it's a very relevant one as I just spent most of my energy credits updating old or now outdated ship systems post respec.) how do you feel about 2 torps fore, 2 beam arrays fore, then 2 torps aft, two beam arrays aft? I've thought about the broadside spec you mentioned above and rather liked the idea, but wasn't familiar enough with the game to decide if that was a good plan.
I also can't mount cannons, since it's not an escort. And as far as the turrets go, I wasn't really sure about those for a cruiser class starship. Didn't seem like I was getting anything for my money there. I could be mistaken though.
Also, if I ever gave up the retrofit exploration cruiser, that would be why I did - I find that even though I slot something basic in that last ensign slot, I still wish I had a little extra tactical oomph.
Apparently, I still have 4 respecs from earlier as well. But I did just use the free respec with season 4. XD
See, that I didn't know. XD That helps, thanks :D
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